Module Catalogue 2023/24

GEO2123 : Social experiments, diverse economies: Copenhagen Field Course

GEO2123 : Social experiments, diverse economies: Copenhagen Field Course

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Helen Jarvis
  • Lecturer: Dr Jessa Loomis, Professor Alastair Bonnett
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Off Campus
  • Capacity limit: 35 student places

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Code Title
GEO2043Key Methods for Human Geographers
Pre Requisite Comment

If you are a stage 3 student, you must take the pre-requisite stage 2 module.


Modules you need to take at the same time

Code Title
GEO2043Key Methods for Human Geographers
Co Requisite Comment

If you are a stage 2 student, you must take the co-requisite stage 2 module.


• To provide, by means of practical field work and experiential education (learning by doing), deep understanding, and meaningful engagement with the inter-related changes and challenges in the social, economic and cultural development of a European (Scandinavian) city - Copenhagen.

• To focus on selected (prominent and highly contested) urban sites of contrasting social and economic milieu in order to critically consider the distinctive features, common themes, competing interest-groups and wider social and economic consequences implicated in these case-studies.

• This module explores ‘social experiments’ (e.g. collective efforts to live and work against the grain of municipal planning, challenging dominant social norms) and ‘diverse economic spaces and practices’, focusing in particular on a continuum of tourist economies that include theme-park capitalism, selling the vision of an alternative society, and the illegal sale of hash.

• The module critically engages with different meanings and interpretations of ‘freedom’ ‘social responsibility’ and ‘alterity’, to ask how free (inclusive) these alternative experiments are compared to what we understand as the dominant social and economic norms of mainstream planning and policy. It also examines how recent trends of change in Scandinavian social democracy (emphasizing egalitarian gender and social relations) influences the alternative practices and spaces that are specifically found in Copenhagen, in a context of rising popular and political conflict over immigration and defense of diversity and assistance for refugees.

Outline Of Syllabus

Lecture/interactive workshop (each 2 hours) before visiting Copenhagen:
1.(Timetable Week 22) Introduction to module: key concepts and themes
2.(TW 26) Copenhagen in context: challenging the stereotypes
3. (TW 27)Researching the city
4.(TW 28) Group project planning. Urban public life and diverse economic practices.
Lecture/interactive workshop (each 2 hours) after visiting Copenhagen
5. (TW 34) Reflect and feedback on the trip and prepare for assessment

The one week residential trip is intended to run from Sunday (arrive pm) to Friday (depart am):
Day 1 Copenhagen in context walking tour(s); guest lectures afternoon and evening.
Day 2 Psychogeography; from capitalism to Christiania; guest lectures afternoon and evening.
Day 3 Cycle-mobility (cycling strategy and rental bikes). Group projects
Day 4 Group project work. Group presentations.
Day 5 Debrief and depart

Taught content themes:
Contested regional geographical imaginations
Danish identity, politics and social structure
Urban space wars: formal and informal participation and development
Diverse economies and alternative economic imaginaries (including degrowth)
Multiple methods of field ethnography

Group project themes
Solidarity: cooperation and resistance
Liveability: freedom and fairness
Social exclusion and parallel societies
Multi-level infrastructure(s)
Consuming 'cool Copenhagen'

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Graduate career value of the skills developed in this module

This module encourages students to engage with a range of issues and debates with reference to the contemporary geographies of the city of Copenhagen, and consequently the skills obtained in this module may be applied to a number of work environments relating to urban planning issues, social enterprise, cultural industries and regional and international issues. Furthermore, generic skills covered in this course include:

•Critically engage with key concepts, competing theories and contrasting case study examples on a continuum from capital-intensive to community-led development; to recognise the contested functions of ‘freedom’ and ‘alterity’
•Explore Copenhagen (three specific, contrasting sites and settings) through a range of theoretical approaches and case studies of everyday life
•Critically evaluate the use of various methodologies for researching the city
•Consider Copenhagen’s social, economic and urban development geographies and the relationships between these.
•Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of contemporary social, economic and urban development issues and debates from multiple interest-group perspectives.

Intended Skill Outcomes

By the end of the course students will be able to:
•Work with others to gain information from experts, field visits and other sources
•Understand the constraints of working in overseas locations and show ethical and cultural sensitivity in the field
•Synthesise and summarise data and present findings in written and oral presentation form within a given time period
•Acknowledge the multi-faceted nature of the issues experienced by major urban centres
•Organise observations in a field diary and produce a fieldwork report
•Reflect on learning in the field

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture52:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading130:0030:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork58:0040:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study180:0080:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The preliminary lectures will serve as an introduction to both Copenhagen and the methodological issues involved in researching city life. Preliminary lectures (delivered via multi-purpose format, combined with interactive workshops) will include historical trends in the social and economic development of three key sites of study; Tivoli Gardens (19th C. theme park); Christiania (former squatter settlement which continues to operate at the margins of municipal law/social norms); and Roskilde (new town and cohousing ecovillage), drawing on a variety of media representations including films, oral histories, guide-books and social media. Fieldwork will be based on guided study visits, guest lectures and seminars and will provide students with opportunities to explore modes of learning beyond the university. Both before and after the fieldtrip, students will be encouraged to dedicate further time to reading and the development of their knowledge and understanding of the issues, conflicts and interest groups involved.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Examination152M3015 mins poster presentation during Fieldtrip. To be scheduled by the School.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Reflective log2M702500 word essay (2 part project findings and reflective autoethnography)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Lectures and interactive workshops before departing for Copenhagen guide students to complete essential background and selected project reading that they will need to draw on to fully engage with the fieldwork and the group oral assessment in the field (30%). Formative assessment in the classroom (quizzes) takes the place of summative essays at this stage to emphasise preparation for fieldwork and peer-to-peer engaged learning.

During the fieldtrip, students will work in groups to gather and interpret evidence demonstrating their understanding of multiple actor-perspectives/ competing interests (tourists, traders, residents etc.) representing one of the selected themes. Findings are to be presented in the form of a poster, assessed as an oral presentation or, with discretion, through electronic submission of a poster accompanied by presentation script. During the fieldtrip, students will be required to keep a diary in order to record their observations and encounters and to reflect on their own position in the field and changes that may occur in their own understanding of the sites and social settings visited (as first a tourist and then as an ethnographer).

For the final fieldwork essay (2,500) (70%) students are expected to combine first-hand observations and experiences from practical field-work (and community engaged, and experiential education) with secondary sources and relevant academic literature, making sense of this data in conjunction with field diary reflections, including a piece of autoethnography. The structure of the assessment will allow student to reflect on the differences between learning in the field and learning in the lecture theatre (or learning about a society/space through the medium of a guide-book).


Past Exam Papers

General Notes

The cost of living in Denmark is higher than it is in the UK and this should be factored into anticipated daily expenditure of food, drink and consumable which are not included with the cost of the field trip.

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